Along with being an important exhibition space, the stunning architecture of the Martin-Gropius Bau adds another dimension for visitors who can admire the fine Renaissance building. There is also a lot of history behind the building of the Martin-Gropius so read on to see why it is a must visit destination for art lovers in Berlin.
A little bit of history
It was Kaiser Wilhelm I who commissioned Berlin architect Martin Gropius to design a building to house his newly acquired art and crafts collection and also to make a statement about Berlin´s arrival as a European city.
And so in 1881 the new grand museum was officially opened which adhered to the classical Italian Renaissance style. An elaborate facade that was adorned by images of craftsmen and artists at work and an elegant and spacious atrium which utilised the light and extenuated space.
The museum´s surrounding area would later play host to much of the Nazi and SS Headquarters in Berlin. An extension to the museum was used by the Gestapo to imprison and torture prisoners. Its strategic position made it a target for allied bombing and the museum would be badly damaged in 1945.
Later the Berlin Wall would be built in front of the damaged museum and you can still see part of it there today. This period would see the building neglected and lose its once lofty status in the arts society.
But in 1978 reconstruction would start on the building which was reopened in 1981 – exactly a hundred years after its inauguration. Additional improvements after reunification led to the splendid building that you see today. Renamed the Martin-Gropius-Bau to honour its original architect, the museum has gone some way to regain its original place in the city’s cultural landscape.
Traditional to contemporary, antiquity to cutting edge
Today Martin Gropius Bau is one of Berlin´s leading exhibition spaces. Annually around 640,000 visitors flock to the museum to see contemporary art and retrospectives from internationally acclaimed and renowned artists. The venue has put on exhibitions from the likes of Frida Kahlo, Diane Airbus, Olafur Eliasson and many more big attraction names.
The museum does not have any permanent exhibitions but specialises more on showing the best work from an eclectic mix of leading and upcoming international artists. This could range from video art from Russia to an exploration of ancient myths. Along with putting on shows about a wide range of interesting or important topics from every era, there are typically accompanying lectures, discussions and even workshops for younger children and families to get involved in.
It is also a venue for the Berlinale, the city´s big annual International Film Festival which runs through February, and other art and cultural festivals.
The Last Word
The Martin Gropius Bau has been ever-present in the history of Berlin since it was initially an important exhibition venue well over a hundred years ago. The Renaissance building has plenty to admire both inside and out. With great exhibitions all year round, any serious art, architecture or history buffs should have the Martin Gropius Bau high on their list of must visits while in Berlin.
Along with the opportunity to view excellent exhibitions throughout the year first time visitors should really enjoy admiring the venue which is a major work of art in itself with its wondefully ornate façade and sumptuous and lavish interior.
At Box Office at venue or
The box office closes at 18:30.
Wednesday to Monday 10:00–19:00
U-Bahn Line 2 (stop: Potsdamer Platz)
S-Bahn Line 1, 2, 25 (stop: Potsdamer Platz or Anhalter Bahnhof)
Busses: M29 (S Anhalter Bahnhof), M41 (Abgeordnetenhaus)